The past rears its ugly head once again with another polyester-drenched installment of Retro SWAT!

Dr. Thorpe:People often like to spice up their fashion sense by revisiting old styles and adopting retro looks. Some old styles, however, must not be revisited. They must be locked away in a box called "never again" and protected by armed, half-insane guards. We are those guards. We are Fashion SWAT.

Zack: Without us you might find yourself at a thrift shop seriously considering whether or not you should buy that paisley rayon shirt. This is no laughing matter. Would you handle radioactive isotopes? Would you juggle razorblades? When you toy with the dark side of retro fashion you're taking you're very life into your hands. This is dangerous stuff that should be left to the professionals. You're welcome in advance.

Dr. Thorpe:Due to the overwhelming boringness of talking about fashion, I'm sure you'll forgive us if we occasionally ramble on for several pages without actually mentioning clothes. You see, sometimes the only way to talk about clothes is to not talk about clothes, you dig?

Zack: "The Slimfit Brigade will advance here and here in a swift pincer motion to encircle and reduce the waistline."

Dr. Thorpe: "Look here, Molly, it says the Slimfit Brigade offers great career opportunities abroad, and after I'm released they'll give me $40,000 for college! I can finally finish my master's degree in casual leaning!"

Zack: This guy is like the Erwin Rommel of pleats. I wonder what famous battles the Slimfit Brigade has won.

Dr. Thorpe: The Battle of the Barely Noticeable Bulge

Zack: The Battle of the Kasserine Pants

Dr. Thorpe: The Battle for Crease Point

Zack: "We're going to deploy our recon forces into the neighboring village and try to find a few groovy birds looking for a laugh."

Dr. Thorpe: "Should you be captured by birds who try to lay their hang-ups on you, we have fitted your field sweater with an automatically constricting turtleneck."

Zack: "Leftenant, you call that a lap? Have a sit on that log and let me see your bulge. Tut-tut, Jerry will see that one coming from a mile away. Colm, get the rope! We'll bind that rascal down if it takes till dawn."

Dr. Thorpe: The real shame of this photo is that the operative now has to kill that groovy bird behind him, because she has glanced over his shoulder and seen secret flat-front chino blueprints. Should they fall into enemy hands, all will be lost. Loose pleats sink fleets.

Zack: I think this photograph was taken during an early period in man's development before we had visible sexual organs of any kind. You could use either of them as a carpentry level. Although, I suppose you can identify the female by her plumage.

Dr. Thorpe: Maybe it's a male, disguised as a groovy bird. Judging by those sloppy folds in his sweater, he could be an agent from the sinister Relaxed-Fit Brigade.

Zack: Each yin must have its yang. If the Slimfit Brigade and the Relaxed-Fit Brigade were ever to meet on the field of battle not a man would walk away with his creases intact. There would be rumpled fabric and ironing prints everywhere.

Dr. Thorpe: The worst thing that can happen to a soldier in the Slimfit Brigade is to be captured and "let out." And I don't mean released. After the Relaxed-Fit Brigade is done with him, he'll stumble back to base tripping over himself, both legs through the same massive pant-leg of his hideously baggy trousers.

Zack: A watermelon-sized bulge distending the front of his slacks and his now-frumpy sweater draped over a giant pair of breasts.

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About This Column

Fashion SWAT... the fashion industry is obsessed with impracticality. We know that what designers create was never meant to be worn by the grimy masses, but that doesn't somehow diminish how ridiculous many of these costumes are. Make no mistake, they are costumes, and like a Halloween prize pageant we will turn our discerning gaze on the grievous fashion misfires of Paris, Milan, and New York. We're not pulling any punches, and we're definitely not interested in making any friends. We're Joan Rivers without Melissa Rivers to temper our screeching. We're the Fashion Police in jack boots. We are Fashion SWAT.

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